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4 Places to Not Buy Quality Fine Art on a Budget

Last week, we talked about places and ways you could buy fine art on a budget.  Click here to read up on last week's article about ways to buy fine art on a budget.  This week, we're going to talk about places you should not go shopping for fine art while on a budget.  Why do you ask?  Well, there's some good reasons and your wallet will thank you for paying close attention here.

1. Retail/Art Galleries


Cramer Imaging's photograph of an art gallery with lots of kinds of art for sale
The retail setting is the about worst place you can go shopping for fine art on a budget.  This is because you are paying full price for quality art.  It's readily available, maybe on sale, but still way too pricey for your small budget.

Art galleries are the worst of the worst.  In this retail setting, you are one-on-one with a gallery representative interested in selling the piece.  He or she will talk it up and tell you all kinds of things about the piece and the artist in an attempt to get you to loosen your purse strings.  This is because these sales representatives are often paid on commission.  The more they sell, the bigger their paycheck becomes.

If you're on a budget, avoid retail settings and art galleries when it comes to your fine art shopping.

2. Farmers' Markets


An out-of-the-way but not unheard of location for buying art is at a farmers' market.  You will want to avoid these places too.  Farmers' markets are seasonal and subject to the weather since they are often held outside.  The cold, rain, and wind can shut them down.  The hot sun can cause you to make some poor decisions if exposed for too long.

Another thing to consider is, if they are not filled with fresh farm food for sale, farmers' markets are filled with tie-dyed t-shirts, jewelry, and other baubles.  Sure, some may call this art but most agree that this is not quality fine art.  For sure, this kind of merchandise will not display well on your wall.

3. Thrift Stores


Photo of the second-hand art selection available for sale at a local thrift store by Cramer Imaging
Your chances of finding something quality here are slim but not impossible.
Thrift stores receive lots of donations of stuff people no longer want.  From time to time, this also means wall art.  The problem is the kind of wall art they often receive isn't what you would consider to be high end or quality art.  It's often of the cheap poster or sewing sampler variety.  There's also lots of cheaply made prints, photographs, and the like which you can find out for sale.

On the rare occasion that a thrift store receives something of actual value, they tend to notice and price it appropriately.  If the donation is worth enough, most thrift stores these days will not put it out for sale on the floor at all.  They will go straight to a site like Ebay and list it there.  They know they can get better money from Ebay than they can from some thrift store customer any day.  You won't find much art of significant value out for sale because of this.

4. Auctions


Here is probably the worst place to go if you want quality fine art on a budget.  Sure, if you pick the right auction at the right auction house, you will be guaranteed to find quality fine art.  What you will also be guaranteed to find is professional auctioneers who know how to price things with the minimum and reserve bids.  You will also find buyers who also know what to shop for as well.  Auctions are a wild card, at best, when it comes to fine art shopping.

Cramer Imaging's quality landscape photograph of Upper Mesa Falls for sale in the Grand Teton Council annual holiday auction

If you attend an estate auction at a smaller auction house, you might get yourself a deal.  Such tend to be more lightly attended and the professionals are less versed in what some things cost.  If you attend a high end or a charity auction, you will be blowing past your small budget in a hurry.  People tend to get bidding wars going over some of the strangest lots.  Things can go for way over the price of buying it brand new.  This is especially common at charity auctions where the proceeds go to benefit a cause.

Conclusion


If you're looking to buy quality fine art on a budget.  These places could not be worse on your budget.  Avoid retail establishments/art galleries, farmers' markets, thrift stores, and auctions.  The variety will vary from large to small.  The quality may not be guaranteed.  The prices will certainly not be friendly to a small budget if you are not extremely careful.  Overall, I would not recommend shopping for new fine art at any of these options if your budget is small.

Got any places or ideas which are bad for buying fine art on a budget which we missed?  Please share them down in the comments section below.  We'd love to learn what to watch out for together.

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